Bogotá, Colombia, March 11, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to investigate an attack on a journalist who had denounced political corruption and the activities of leftist guerrilla groups in the region. Juan David Betancur received a letter bomb in the mail on Thursday that failed to explode and did not injure him, according to news reports.
Journalists faced resurgent violence from illegal armed groups in the months before President Juan Manuel Santos’ government announced peace talks with the leftist guerrilla organization Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The group, also known as the FARC, held French reporter Roméo Langlois captive for more than a month, the first abduction of an international journalist in Colombia since 2003, according to CPJ research. Fernando Londoño, a radio talk show host and former high-ranking government official, was injured and his driver and bodyguard were killed in a targeted bombing in Bogotá. Police were also implicated in an instance of anti-press violence. In November, freelance journalist Guillermo Quiroz Delgado died after being arrested while covering a street protest in Sucre department. From his hospital bed, Quiroz said he had been assaulted by police officers. Decisions in several legal cases favored the press. Angered by criticism in an opinion piece, the seven justices of the Supreme Court’s criminal chamber filed an unprecedented criminal defamation complaint against columnist Cecilia Orozco Tascón—but dropped the case after widespread criticism. The chief prosecutor's office classified the 2000 kidnapping and sexual assault of journalist Jineth Bedoya as a crime against humanity and thus not subject to the statute of limitation. And two former officials of the national intelligence agency, or DAS, were sentenced to six years each in prison for an illegal espionage program that targeted critical journalists among others.
No amount of security training can make up for a lack of professional solidarity. By Frank Smyth
Bogotá, February 1, 2013--Authorities in Colombia should ensure the safety of two journalists who have fled the northern city of Montería after being threatened for their reporting on criminal groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
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